Maids, labor groups raise concerns about China market
Though the pay may be better than in Hong Kong or Macau, other factors such as legal protections should be considered
Some Filipino maids, labor groups and employer associations have warned that while domestic workers could enjoy higher incomes in mainland China than in Hong Kong or Macau, they could also face extra challenges.
A Filipino maid named Beerly, who has been working in Hong Kong for 20 years, said she would not consider working on the mainland as she had an unfavorable experience working for mainland Chinese employers in Hong Kong.
She said mainland Chinese who promised to provide high salaries were only paying lip service.
Another Filipino maid who has worked in Hong Kong for six years said she was not interested in working in mainland China despite higher pay.
The comments came after a media report said China might open its doors to Filipino domestic workers and offer them up to 100,000 Philippine pesos (US$1,980) a month, compared with the HK$4,310 (US$552) they would receive in Hong Kong.
Shiella Grace Estrada, chairwoman of the Progressive Labor Union of Domestic Workers in Hong Kong, said the opportunity to earn a higher salary on the mainland seemed very attractive to some maids, but it should not be the only criterion when choosing their employment location. Maids should also consider whether legal protection for foreign domestic workers on the mainland is sufficient, she said.
‘Higher pay, less happiness’
Benny Lee, director of the Support Group for Hong Kong Employers with Foreign Domestic Helpers, said Filipino maids in the city were protected by labor unions, which are rarely seen on the mainland, adding that religious freedom should be another consideration.
Teresa Liu, managing director of Technic Employment Service Centre in Hong Kong, also questioned the lack of policies on medical insurance and other protections for Filipino maids working in mainland China, Ta Kung Pao reported.
Au Yeung Kwong-kou, chairman of the Macau Oversea Worker Employment Agency Association, said many Filipino maids had told him they were not interested in working in mainland China, which is too large for them to meet their compatriots easily.
Some Filipino maids also said it would not be an easy task to teach employers’ children to speak English on top of the workload of daily chores, Au Yeung was quoted as saying in an Exmoo News report.
The Philippine and Chinese governments will discuss a labor arrangement later this year to deploy Filipino maids to five Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, according to The Philippine Star.